Guidebook

A guide gives an overview of Southampton in 1888

In 1888 travelers heading to Hampshire and the south coast could buy a useful book for the sum of ten shillings (50 pence), the equivalent of about £50 today.

A popular publication, the book was in its fourth edition, and the compiler even took the time to explain how it came to be.

“The handbook was compiled from a careful personal exploration of the country, aided by the most up-to-date information obtained from residents,” said the book’s publisher.

At this point in the Victorian era, the book explains that Hampshire was the eighth largest English county “in terms of size” with an area of ​​1,070,216 acres, or about 1,672 square miles from the current 1,400 square miles, a reduction mainly due to boundary changes.


Read more: Bitterne when it became part of Southampton >>>


According to the 1881 census, Hampshire’s population then stood at 593,470, while a 2018 estimate puts the number of people living in the county at a total of 1.376 million. This is despite the county becoming smaller, with part of West Hampshire becoming Dorset.

The guide’s section on Southampton and surrounding areas doesn’t paint the city in a great light to begin with, but things improve as it explores further.

“Like other seaports it has its dirty slums, but in recent years what may be considered a new town, and all around is an air of bustle and activity worthy of a place to, and from which, many of the finest ocean-going steamships arrive and depart daily,” explains the anonymous author of the book.

“It is as a parcel station that it is now so important, and it would be worth a visit in that capacity, even if it had nothing of interest for the antique dealer.

Daily Echo: Victorian Southampton

“The large liners that line the quays are usually presented for a small fee, which is paid to the town infirmary, as the admirable amenities and accommodations are worth inspecting.” A potential visitor to Southampton is invited by the guide to visit the High Street. , and it is recalled that it was formerly known as English Street.

The guide says: “The High Street is one of the most beautiful streets in England. It is over a mile long, almost straight, fairly wide, and an abundance of bow windows.

“The shops are beautiful, and there is a lot of commerce, presenting a cheerful and lively appearance, especially from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m..” Another must-see place to visit, according to the guide, was the “big military hospital”. established about two miles south of Netley Abbey overlooking Southampton Water.

Daily Echo: Victorian Southampton

“Connected by a scattered line of wicked houses and beer halls, the hospital was established immediately after the Crimean War to meet a then hard-felt need,” the book says.

“Many objections have been made to the site, in Parliament and elsewhere, on the grounds of the supposed unsanitary conditions of the mud banks at low tide.

“Experience, however, has shown that these objections are unfounded, and that the situation is as salubrious as it is practical. less than a quarter of a mile long.

According to the guide: “The hospital contains 138 wards and 1,065 beds, while the corridor, used for exercise, runs along each of the three floors, and in fine weather marquees are erected on the front lawn, well supplied with chairs for convalescents.


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